The Dress and The Dead Sea

Ruining a gorgeous dress has never looked as appealing as in Israeli artist Sigalit Landau’s latest work.

For Jerusalem-born Sigalit Landau, the Dead Sea is so near and dear to her heart that she considers it nearly a part of herself. As an artist with an abundance of work focusing on or involving the sea in some way, the sea is pretty much a collaborative partner in her work. This week, we couldn’t help but dive into her latest: in “Salt Bride”, Sigalit colludes with the Dead Sea once again, harnessing its salinity to create and display spellbinding and eerie sea-installations.

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During the conception of the work, Sigalit drew heavily from the 1916 drama “The Dydduk”, a play about the exorcism of a bride which draws from traditional Jewish folklore, “black magic and Kabbalistic content,” as she describes. “It’s a side of Judaism that is more romantic and mystic,” she adds. Sigalit, in cooperation with the Habima National Theatre in Tel Aviv, created an exact replica of the dress the bride wears and then submerged it meters below the surface of the Dead Sea.

salt before

To represent the transformative power of the sea, the dress is exhibited floating underwater through eight striking life-sized color photographs. Overall, the installation is photographed in a way that offers a sort of time-lapsed view of the natural changes the dress undergoes in the undersea environment: slowly and subtly, the dress changes from black to shimmery white-ish as salt crystals eventually build up on the fabric’s surface. “It looks like snow, like sugar, like death’s embrace,” Sigalit describes.

salt after

In total, the dress stayed underwater for three months before being lifted out of the sea. Having taken on a completely new form, the change of the salt-encrusted dress from mourning garment to beautiful festive-wear comes to symbolically represent the transformative power of the Dead Sea—a particularly salient message in an area of the world which itself is similarly well-versed in transformation.

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